1.43pm, as I’m writing this, I’m sipping on my 4th bottle of whey shake, “5 more to go for the day”. A constant, IV-drip like supply of protein, the best way to prevent muscles from withering away.
Jokes aside, with absurd claims being the driving force behind many products, the world of supplementation is a tough one to navigate.
Fortunately, supplements that actually work have withstood the tests of research and time, and in this article, we’ll narrow it down to the select few that make this esteemed list.
But I need to preface this: Like my previous article on exercise selection, your choice of supplementation is goal dependent. Someone with arthritis is going to have a very different looking supplement cabinet compared to someone looking to put on weight. Figure out your main goal before picking any supplements.
Before I go on and plug a protein powder with my discount code, some answers to some FAQs:
- How much protein should I consume?
Not having enough protein is no big deal, the human body can survive with various percentages of macronutrient breakdown. However, in the purpose of getting stronger (i.e., increased muscle mass), aim for 1.5g – 2g of protein/ kg bodyweight. E.g., a 60kg person should consume about 90gs – 120gs of protein per day. Err on the low side if you’re new to a high protein diet.
- Can protein make me too muscular?
The main reason this tops the list: Most Malaysian meals lack sufficient protein. With meals built around noodles, rice, and bread, it’s no surprise that carbohydrate dominates the nutrient composition of our typical meals. Consuming even the low end of 1.5g of protein per kg bodyweight can feel like a stretch for many.
And this is why protein supplementation is the whey to go (pun intended).
Whey protein is a cheap and convenient source of protein. A scoop usually provides the protein equivalent of 100g of chicken breast: 25g.
I’ve tried doing it, but eating 600g of lean meat every day to hit my daily goal of 150g protein is not something I see myself doing for life. Having 2 scoops of protein supplement and just being more conscious about consuming more protein in meals is a better entry point for anyone seeking to improve their body composition.
Caffeine’s capacity to increase strength, endurance, and alertness (albeit transient) is the main reason why it’s ubiquitous in many sports stimulants. An hour of increased performance, over 1 year, can be the difference between winning the league vs being relegated.
Beyond the walls of fitness, caffeine’s effect on improved alertness and cognitive functioning is the reason why coffee is one of the most widely consumed beverage in the world. It is, as I like to believe, the reason why the world still functions.
However, there is a biological downside to this. Caffeine is not a free pass to stay “wired” 24/7, and should be a supplement ON TOP OF sufficient sleep. Over consumption can lead to caffeine tolerance: where the effects of caffeine is no longer potent.
Thus, I recommend lowering doses on days where activity level is low to prevent tolerance to caffeine
Step 1: Find your dose. A blanket recommendation is to keep to within 500mg a day, but I find myself wired for hours even with 200 mg. A typical espresso shot usually yields about 80mg of caffeine, a red bull can has about 75mg.
Step 2: Plan your caffeine intake around periods where energy levels dip. I recommend it to be sometime between 10am to 3pm, where the natural dip in energy levels occurs for most people upon waking around 730am, and not too close to general bedtime of 11pm. Personally, I drink my coffee at 10am and at 2pm.
Definition: “a thing added to something else in order to complete or enhance it”.
Supplementation is only useful on top of an already sound and consistent diet and training plan. It can make the fitness journey easier, but it’s no shortcut to actual work. With that, I urge you to prioritize on creating a lifestyle that supports your fitness goals, and only then, layer in the equation of a supplement.
Curious on how to design a training program that works according to your lifestyle, contact us at Healthworks, Mont Kiara to schedule a fitness consultation with our fitness trainers at 03-6211 7533.